Public DEQ Meeting On Proposed Marina Water Circulation Pipe Elicits Concerns, Opposition
Citing a number of legal issues including water use and boat traffic safety concerns, impact to the fauna and more, 10 people spoke while others submitted written notes in opposition to a planned water circulation pipe for the proposed marina basin by the NorthShore developer (formerly the Denison/ McClendon property).
Those statements came during Monday’s Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing at the Saugatuck High School Library.
No one spoke in favor of the NorthShore proposal, which calls for a gravity-fed, 36-inch diameter pipe, approximately 1,450-feet long, that will be used to circulate water from the Kalamazoo River to the upper regions of the marina basin. The proposed circulation pipe would flush stagnant water from the basin every six days.
Echoing similar commentary, Rebecca Bruns, area resident and competitive sailboat racer said, “How is this water going into the (Kalamazoo River after being dumped from the marina basin) without being in an uncontaminated state, with the 22 homes around the marina, 22 septic fields, house roofs and manicured lawns?”
She added the bilge pumps from yachts that would dock in the marina would present further contaminants.
Bruns said the yachts themselves (the proposed 6.54 marina basin, on 95.67 total acres, is estimated to have the capacity to hold 120- to 200-foot yachts) would create congestion and prompt boat safety issues, especially with the cove being located across the river from the proposed marina.
Others—including members of the environmental preservation group Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance (SDCA)—told DEQ representatives (Kalamazoo District Supervisor Cameron Jordan and District Environmental Engineer John Bayha) that this latest NorthShore project was “putting the cart before the horse” and characterized the developer’s strategy as “piecemeal” because the marina basin itself has not been fully permitted and there are many issues still unaddressed.
While the DEQ previously granted a permit, the DEQ decision as well as Saugatuck Township Planning Commission approval is currently being reviewed by the courts.
Also, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has requested further review before making its final decision.
Some present at Monday’s hearing pointed out that it was telling that when the public asked the attorney for NorthShore, Carl J. Gabrielse, about what material the pipe would be made of and what kind and size grating the pipe would have (the circulation pipe is proposed to be grated at both ends to prevent entry of large debris and aquatic life), Gabrielse said, “We don’t have that information tonight.”
Area residents Suzanne Dixon, who represented Kalamazoo River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and Keith Charak voiced concern over this endangered specie, noting that the project would harm ongoing sturgeon rehabilitation efforts.
Gabrielse was joined by environmental consultant Adrienne Peterson (Peterson Environmental) in representing NorthShore.
Their presentation before the public was brief, with Gabrielse noting that he had no further information to add besides what was already provided in the filing with the DEQ.
“We have our own fisheries experts, you (the DEQ) have your own fisheries experts. I am confident together we can come up with solutions to provide the protective (state and local ordinance) requirements,” said Gabrielse at the beginning of the public hearing.
The public hearing remains open 10 days after Monday’s session. Written comments can be submitted to DEQ’s Water Resource Division Kalamazoo District Office, 7953 Adobe Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49009-5025.